This week at the GDC 2015, Valve, the developer responsible for big-name games like Portal and for the Steam PC gaming service, gave users another look at the hardware and services it hopes will make PC gaming every bit as mainstream as buying a PS4 or Xbox One.
The new Steam Link and final Steam Controller were just two of the things Steam showed off during the Games Developer Conference. The Games Developer Conference is a yearly gathering of video game makers and video game platform creators. There they swap best practices and hear about new trends in the space. Companies like Valve, Sony and Microsoft also show up there to talk about new platforms and features they hope game developers will take advantage of in the coming months.
The first thing to be mentioned in the company’s press release posted to Steam Databaseis Steam Link. Costing $49.99, Steam Link will connect direct to user’s televisions and allow them to stream games. A PC with Steam OS, Windows, Mac or Linux will be required to make the streaming work. The box will be perfect for any who has a huge gaming PC in one part of their house and doesn’t want to drag it into other rooms just to get a gaming session coming.
Sony’s PS4 video game console offers this kind of functionality already with the PlayStation TV and Remote Play. Microsoft has also confirmed it’s doing something similar with Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One. With Steam Link, Valve is promising low latency and 1080p resolution. The Steam controller will officially arrive online for $49.99 too. Valve has teased the Steam Controller ever since it announced it was going after the PS4 and Xbox One in a big way.
During Mobile World Congress 2015 HTC and Valve announced the HTC Vive, a VR headset that users will be able to wear for immersion in their games and videos. At that event HTC talked a bit about the hardware. Now Valve is talking about software. A tracking system Valve is calling Lighthouse will be free for any hardware maker to use. Lighthouse is used to track where players are in a room. Pricing for the HTC Vive headset remain a mystery. The HTC Vive is slated for release by the end of the year, according to Valve’s press release.
Again, Sony and Microsoft already have products in these spaces. Sony used its press briefing to reveal an updated version of the Project Morpheus headset it hopes will immerse PS4 users in their games. In January Microsoft announced HoloLens, a wearable that will also use new technology to let users watch videos and perform other tasks with a headset. Unlike the HTC Vice and Project Morpheus, HoloLens overlays its interface around the room instead of completely encapsulating the user’s face.
The stage is set for an ultimate battle in the gaming space. For years, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have been able to treat PC gaming as a different market, something that only hardcore gamers could appreciate. Valve has been able to unite PC gamers with its marketplace and purchasing platform, making them the biggest name in PC gaming. With their foothold cemented, Valve is ready to take on the big three gaming companies in the living room.
Microsoft isn’t sitting idle, waiting for this to happen. In January it announced it was building Xbox Live directly into its Windows 10 operating system. What’s more, it’s already added PC compatibility to its Xbox One controller. Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to upgrade to for the first year.
Since announcing Steam Link, Valve has pulled it from its website.